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Even Louie Gohmert Knows His Presidential Bid Is a Joke

If you signed off the internet for a few hours on Thursday afternoon, maybe to transfer to a different device after briefly interacting with loved ones, you missed what we assume will be the shortest presidential campaign of the 2016 election. When asked if he would support Senator Ted Cruz's presidential bid, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert told The Hill, "Ted is a good friend and would be an outstanding President; however, I haven't ruled out an exploratory committee myself." While this sent a thrill up the leg of every political journalist, sadly Jeb Bush and company will not be forced to debate a man who linked gun control to bestiality, warned that the U.S. was being infiltrated by "terror babies," and argued for taking away Americans' right to directly elect their senators.

A short time later, he clarified that he'll never be president, citing baldness. »

Buildings Collapse in Flames After Blast Rocks East Village

An apparent gas explosion shook the East Village on Thursday afternoon and sparked a seven-alarm fire that leveled three buildings. The blast occurred at about 3:17 p.m. in 121 Second Avenue, near Seventh Street. That building was mixed-occupancy, with Sushi Park on the ground level and apartments above. Two other buildings, 119 and 123 Second Avenue, also caught fire and collapsed due to the explosion. Late on Thursday night, firefighters were still battling the blaze in 125 Second Avenue.

The FDNY said 19 people were injured in the blast, including five firefighters. Four civilians are in critical condition, and seven suffered minor injuries. Four of the firefighters were hospitalized and one was treated at the scene. At least one person is missing. Nicholas Figueroa, 23, was on a date at Sushi Park and his family said he hasn't turned up in hospitals or shelters.

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TV News Insults Viewers’ Intelligence Once Again With Cartoon Reenactments of Co-Pilot Knocking

This morning, French authorities said that the plane crash in the Alps earlier this week may have been deliberate. The dark turn caused news coverage of the tragic event to grow even more unavoidable as TV shows kept recycling the same breaking-news updates in different ways in order to both keep viewers watching and insult their intelligence as much as possible.

This process — most dazzling in its dimwittedness during cable-news coverage of MH370 — often involves cartoon reenactments, and plane-mystery experts at CNN and the Today show both thought it necessary to show their viewers what a co-pilot knocking on a cockpit door might look like. 

Feds Heading to Indiana to Stop HIV Outbreak

Governor Mike Pence declared a public-health emergency in Indiana today after an HIV outbreak in rural Scott County, mostly owing to intravenous drug use. The CDC will arrive in Indiana next Monday, and Pence created a 30-day needle-exchange program, something he strongly opposes, to help curb the outbreak. There are 79 cases of HIV in the county currently — more than half of the number in the state. Pence also made national news today for signing a controversial religious-freedom law. Opponents believe the law could lead to discrimination against same-sex couples. The NCAA released a statement saying they were "especially concerned" with how the law could affect those attending the Final Four in Indianapolis. Similar measures are being considered in other states.

What Happens to Most AWOL Soldiers?

In February, New York Magazine published a story on the men and women who fled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and mostly escaped punishment from the federal government. After the news of Bowe Bergdahl's desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy charges on Wednesday, Daily Intelligencer thought it would be smart to look back at what Wil Hylton's reporting tells us about the life of AWOL soldiers, especially since most don't receive massive amounts of national attention.

First of all, it's exceptionally rare for the federal government to punish deserters in the 21st century. 

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Germanwings Co-Pilot May Have Intentionally Crashed the Plane [Updated]

The prosecutor examining a Germanwings plane crash that killed 150 people on Tuesday has opened an investigation for voluntary manslaughter, as it increasingly seems that the only co-pilot left in the cockpit at the end of the flight wanted to “destroy the aircraft.” The pilot was a 28-year-old German man named Andreas Lubitz, and he appeared to be conscious until the plane crashed. After Lubitz's co-pilot left the cockpit, "it was absolute silence in the cockpit," according to prosecutor Brice Robin. Lubitz's breathing is heard on the recording, suggesting he was alive and alert at the time of the crash. In the last few moments of audio, Robin added, screaming could be heard.

The German transport minister agreed with Robin in a press conference on Thursday: “The theory of a deliberate crash is plausible." Lubitz had 630 hours of flight experience, and was a member of the flying club Luftsportclub Westerwald, which said that he "became a member of the association and wanted his dream of flying to be realized." According to AFP, the deceased captain of the plane's crew, who has not been identified, had more than 6,000 hours of flight experience.

A senior military official investigating the crash told the New York Times that audio from Flight 9525's voice recorder reveals one pilot is heard leaving the cockpit, then there's increasingly frantic banging on the door as the Airbus A320 inexplicably begins to descend into the French Alps. Within ten minutes, the plane dropped from an altitude of 38,000 feet to about 6,000 and crashed into the mountainside — all while one pilot was apparently locked out of the cockpit and the other gave no response. "The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer," the investigator said. "And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer." He added, "You can hear he is trying to smash the door down." 

Robin continued, "At this moment, in light of investigation, the interpretation we can give at this time is that the co-pilot through voluntary abstention refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude."

There have been a number of plane crashes attributed to pilot suicide, and that regarding this case, asking if Lubitz committed suicide "is a legitimate question to ask." Robin said there was nothing to indicate that the crash was a terrorist attack, but Lufthansa CEO said Carston Spuhr added that "when one person is responsible for 150 lives, it is more than suicide."

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Rahm Emanuel Is Really Running Against Himself

Two weeks before Chicago residents decide whether to reelect Rahm Emanuel as mayor, they’re starting to see a softer side of Rahmbo. “They say your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness,” he says, sitting at a table in a V-neck sweater with no tie, in a TV commercial that instantly became the most talked-about ad of the race. “I’m living proof of that. I can rub people the wrong way, or talk when I should listen. I own that.” In a clever twist on this vulnerability play, Emanuel argues that his abrasive style is driven by his motivation to make the city better. But the tacit admission is not lost on anyone. The ad came a week after he failed to earn 50 percent of the vote in a five-way mayoral race, triggering a run-off with a progressive challenger who seriously threatens his chances at a second term. Opposition to Emanuel, which is at the heart of Jesus "Chuy" Garcia’s surprisingly effective candidacy, takes many forms, but there is one universal complaint among his critics: Emanuel is abrasive, and his reputation for insensitivity has come to color how people view his first term, fairly or not.

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Frank Gehry’s Condé Nast Cafeteria Is Not Going to Be Demolished

Condé Nast's last magazines at 4 Times Square — Vanity Fair and Bon Appétit — moved downtown in January, leaving the old Magazine Heaven spaces empty. That included closing down the most architecturally ambitious cafeteria in the world: the swoopy titanium-and-glass room designed by Frank Gehry when the company moved in a decade ago. In 1999, it was the room everyone in publishing was angling to visit for lunch; jokes abounded about the calorie-free meals consumed by the young ladies of Vogue and Allure, and contrasting the mediocre cooking with the fab environs. Until Gehry's Spruce Street apartment tower went up in 2007, it was his only architectural work in town. Now the room sits, closed and silent.

Its next act. »

Top-Secret Agents Battling Drugs Allegedly Host Cartel-Funded Sex Parties [Updated]

The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General recently released a report focusing on how the department's various agencies respond to sexual-harassment and misconduct allegations. The Drug Enforcement Administration seems to have had several problems in these areas, according to the Huffington Post. Seven agents serving in Colombia were allegedly hosting "sex parties" with prostitutes paid with drug-cartel money. The DOJ was "particularly troubled" by these parties, which involved agents with top-secret clearances and took place "over a period of several years." 

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